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Holding Space for Sex During Labor and Childbirth with Clarissa Herman, MA


by: Scarlett McIntosh

Clarissa Herman joined us in May for a discussion about sexuality and childbirth as a part of our Salon Series. She holds a Master’s degree in Sexuality Studies and has experience working with survivors of sexual and domestic violence. As a labor & postpartum doula, she noticed how difficult it was to broach the topic of sex with pregnant clients. The connection between sex and birth in the laboring process may seem obvious, but can be difficult to facilitate in many birth settings.

Clarissa’s key point for birth workers was to normalize sexuality in childbirth. As an opportunity for transformation and/or sexual healing, reclaiming sexuality and the body in birth should not be shied away from. Sanitizing pleasure out of the birthing process is part of the patriarchal norms embedded in birth culture. Clarissa explained this connection through a brief historical overview of labor in the US. For a long time, birth took place in the home, a more private and intimate experience shared with midwives and kin as support. The rise of the medical industry normalized in-hospital births, what many remember as traumatic shackling, drugging, and forceful deliveries by doctors. However, now with more evidence-based care we have a mix of home, hospital, and birth centers, as well as access to better emergency practice and care. Clarissa encouraged us to set the tone as birth workers. Our ability to plant the seeds of normal sexuality in birth is achievable and can create ripple effects in our birth culture.

Now how might birth workers do that? Clarissa didn’t recommend just turning off the lights and telling a couple to start doing it right then and there. No, she encourages exploring pleasure and reclamation of sexuality in labor. That might look like a couple sharing a bath and exchanging affirmations. It might be toning down the lights and encouraging a partner to give soft kisses between contractions. It might sound like the deep moans that may have implanted that ovum in the first place. The laboring person has to get past feeling self-conscious in order for the hormones to work together in rhythm. Once they have their rhythm, the birth worker’s job is to continue holding the space for their birth experience. If you have the opportunity to meet clients prenatally, Clarissa suggested acknowledging the value of perineal massage, not only for stretching tissue, but also for exploring the sensations that come up, surrendering to them, and breathing through the discomfort that may arise.

As birth workers we share the goal of protecting birth visions and centering the laboring person’s experience. Clarissa calls for birth workers to set the tone and for pregnant folks to take responsibility for their birth and find their agency. For many survivors, birth brings up a lot of sensations. Reclaiming the process might offer an opportunity for transformation and sexual healing.

Hey Bay Area Community! Salon Series is always looking for new speakers and topics for our monthly series. If you have ideas for a salon series email us!





Non-Attached to Outcome Motivational Interviewing in Full Spectrum Work 

by: Lauren MacDonald 


Maggie Downey and Svea Vikander joined us for our March Salon Series and brought along their toolbox for motivational interviewing and how it can be applied to full spectrum work. Both coming from professional backgrounds, Maggie MSW and PHD student and Svea, Clinical Mental Health Counselor, presented in a very compassionate and relaxed way the history, basics and applications of motivational interviewing.They have adapted the traditonal MI pillars and added in the concept of "Non-Attached to Outcome Motivational Interviewing" to make the practice more inclusive. 

What is NAOMI you might ask and why should you consider diving in to learn more. I like this quote from the presnetation, NAOMI is "...a soft way of helping people take a hard look at themselves." In all our interactions we with other people, friends, family, clients, cowokers, strangers, we can hear people talk about change. Talk about how they should, could, will do better, make the move, stop. When we hear change talk we are typically compelled to do something. I appreciate NAOMI because it reminds me that my role is not to make the change, it is to listen, reflect, and illicit more coverstion. NAOMI can be a super useful framework to support us as we hold up the mirror for folks to hear and see the change talk too and make the move within themselves to change. 

Maggie and Svea were so well prepared with a beautiful powerpoint and handouts I have little to write up as a summary because the information is now at your fingertips! BADP Motivational Interviewing Presenation and Handouts. Also, for the first time ever we recorded the event presentation so you can listen in and pretend you hauled through the rain that night to be in the living room with us! Motivational Interviewing Presentation Recording

Thank you Maggie and Svea for coming to share and giving us all more tools to work with! 

If their is any difficulty with the links please do not hesistate to reach out to the team 



Moon Blood Magic with La Loba Loca 

Summary of the "Moon Blood Magic" Salon Series with La Loba Loca

Click to read more ...


Become an Abortion Doula!

We are excited to announce that our Spring "open-call" training will be on April 16-17, 2016!

This training is available to anyone interested in providing abortion doula services to their clients and communities. Our priority is ensuring that everyone who wants an abortion doula has access to one.

About the BADP Open-Call Training:  

This 2-day training will provide an overview of abortion procedures and processes, while focusing on the development of pain management techniques and emotional support skills so that doulas can advocate for and support their clients through medical and surgical abortions. The training will include extensive values clarification exercises, in addition to role-plays and partnering practice; we know that everyone brings a wide range of reproductive health and reproductive justice experience to this work, and we want the training to be an opportunity for folks to learn from each other, as well.

In order to keep the training a meaningful learning experience, we will be capping the training at 30 individuals. Applications are due no later than midnight of March 25th!

Click Here to Apply for the Training!

Logistics and Policies:

  • When: 9am-5pm on Saturday and Sunday, with breaks for lunch. Breakfast and lunch will be provided.

  • Where: Location information will be provided to attendees. Location will be accessible by public transportation in the Bay Area.

  • Fees: We charge a flat rate $65 fee which covers the expense of materials, catered breakfast and lunch for both days.

For more information and answers to frequently asked questions, please check out the Become an Abortion Doula section of our website.


November Salon Series: The Pill and Patriarchy 

By: Lauren MacDonald 

Our November Salon Series was inspired and guided by Kristen Portney, a doula and student of psychotherapy. She offered to share her curiosity, personal experience, and research about hormonal birth control with the BADP community. She led us in a discussion about how the ancient wisdom of self-care, fertility tracking and health care has been threatened by capitalism and patriarchal dominance for hundreds of years.

The conversation was powerful, positive and passionate. However there were experiences shared that carried the all too common themes of shame, guilt, fear, manipulation, and repression of sexuality. Many of us shared our personal experiences, positive and negative, about using conventional pharmaceuticals and birth control methods. We talked about how different hormones and procedures affected us mentally, physically, and emotionally. We talked about methods of fertility tracking, herbal alternatives for birth control and abortion, and the benefits of emotional support through transformative times like pregnancy and puberty. We imagined the ideal doctor’s office visit to include education about all birth control methods including fertility awareness. We asked questions, of each other, of our ancestors, of the world.

An image came to mind to me as were sharing, our experiences and wisdom were flames flickering on candles; we were passing a candle flame, one by one, until the whole room was lit by candle light, the light that will burn the veil that is cast over us all by patriarchal oppression. 

The what-ifs, whys, and how's were inspiring and lead me to ask you to light another candle! Below are some resources to some topics discussed. Please feel free to comment on blog with articles, books, events, workshops, safe space resources to continue conversations and share our ancient wisdom! 

Thank you to everyone for coming on a chilly November night to shine brighter together!





Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation by Silvia Federici

Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom (Revised Edition): Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing by Christiane Northrup M.D.